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Children’s playground for winter

A place for our Children to play outside despite harsh wind

Our new planted food forest needs a few years to grow before it will give any protection against the harsh winds we have here, so we needed to do something so our children can play outside protected against the worst of the wind.

Straw bales

So we have decided to turn this pile of straw into a sort of protective fencing.

The first corner with straw bales

We chose a spot direct beside the playtent of the children and beside the caravan. This spot is also already some what protected by a large stone building, so we only needed to close 3 sides with the straw bales.

Putting down a straw bale

We used the Tractor with front end loader to put the straw bales in place.

2 sides closed

After closing two sides we brought a few tractor buckets of sand to make a hill in the middle. Our children love to play with sand.

Sand hill and last side closed

After that we closed the last side leaving a small hole where we can walk trough.

We finished this project just in time, because that night we had a snow storm.  The branches standing up are “trees” our oldest planted. He makes his own “food forest”.

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Our Tiny House. Part 3. Moving

Lifting the Tiny House by crane

As already mentioned we where not sure where to put the Tiny House when we started building it. We have made the construction so that we could lift it with a crane. As you might have noticed in previous pictures we have already moved the Tiny House once before, but not by crane. We used our Tractor with front end loader and our Telehandler to lift the Tiny House straight up and moved a trailer under neat it on which we sat it down gently. We moved it by trailer to a different spot where it was not in the way so much. After that we repeated the process with the Tractor and Telehandler and sat it down again. This method only allows the Tiny House to be lifted straight up and is not useful to put it on its foundation, so we used a 70 Ton crane this time.

The first move
This is where the Tiny House will go

On the final location we made a simple foundation for the Tiny House out of concrete and a stone slab. This foundation is more then enough since the Tiny House only needs a level service to sit on. The foundation is located on the old stable foundation which was leveled out with gravel.

The 70 Ton crane
Preparing the straps

In order to lift the Tiny House we put 2 Boat straps underneath the Tiny House. Those straps where then connected to lifting slings which where connected to chains. The chains where spread to minimize pressure on the Tiny House. We also put some temporary beams along the edge of the roof to help spread the pressure over the total roof construction.

Almost ready to lift

Then we where ready to lift the Tiny House up. We did not lift the Tiny House very high and we moved it over very slowly. We let the pictures speak for themselves.

Gently starting to lift
Proof that a wooden structure is strong enough to be lifted
Slowly turning
Almost there
Arranging the asphalt paper
Gently setting down

We positioned the Tiny House above the foundation and arranged some asphalt paper between the stone slap and the beams to prevent moisture coming up from the foundation. After that we gently sat the Tiny House down.

Checking if it sits OK

Mission accomplished, so we removed the straps and everything from the crane could be packed away again. The hole operation only took 1,5 Hours and went very well.

Removing the straps
Packing up the crane
Crane ready to leave

Fun fact the crane weighted the Tiny House at 7 Tons. We expected it to be around 3.5 Tons, so we where very surprised. You must know that we could only lift around 4 Tons in total with the Tractor and the Telehandler.

The new location

Next thing to do is to start working on the interior.

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We have moved

But we did not move far

The first picture is were we want to go to. It is between a larger stone building and the play tent of our children. We break the wind blowing on the tent, so it is also by bad wetter a place where the children can play.

We want to move our caravan. The caravan will have less wind where we want to move it to then where it is now, so it will not cool down so quickly.

To the right is where we are standing now. To the left is where we want to go to.

We used our pick-up to move our caravan.

Our move did not take much time.

We don’t want to have all the sand in the caravan. We already have enough with 4 dogs and 3 children running in and out. So we have made a wood chips patch along the caravan.

Coming up is moving our Tiny House. This is not so easy as moving the caravan. This will be done with a crane. Hopefully all will go well.

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Part 4 in starting for our food forest

Planting the first fruit bearing trees

This was a lot of work. We planted the trees with the help of our children, which had a lot of fun, then watered the trees and mulched them with straw. The straw should keep the moisture in the ground and will ad nutrients over time.

We have planted a lot of trees and bushes. The following list is what we have purchased to divide on our over 2 acres property.

Plantings autumn 2021

60 pcs of Sweet Chestnuts

20 pcs of Wild Pears

20 pcs of Hazelnut

40 pcs of Potato Roses

20 pcs of Dog Roses

Sweet Chestnuts

These plants where recommended to us by our local environmental government. Apparently there is not much that would grow on our open, very windy, but also very sunny (the sun burns in summer) property.

Not only did we plant along our fencing, but we also planted a few rows of trees and bushes on different positions across our property. The mean reason for planting so many trees and bushes is to get the wind out of our property. Hopefully these plants will be the start for a better micro-climate on our property. Once these trees have settled and grown we can start thinking about planting more useful plants and trees.

Also we had already purchased fruit trees last year, but we just had not found the right spot for them jet. Now we had decided on a protected spot near our pond and planted our 7 fruit trees

3 pcs of Pear Trees

2 pcs of Apple Trees

A Cherry Tree

A Peaches Tree

Our new windfall meadow

There are already 4 larger apple trees on our property. Last year they were full of apples, so we had apple cider made out of the apples ( we still have some left). This year there were no apples. We hope to have an abundance again next year.

Next thing on our list is to plant the oak trees we have grown from seed our selves. We plan to plant the oak trees along our dead wood hedge.

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Flowers despite the cold and a few night frosts

Beautiful pictures of the little bit of colour left in the garden/ nature

Despite the cold wetter of days with no more then 5°C and also several night frosts, I am surprised to see that we still have flowers blooming all over our property. Some are planted; some are put there by nature.

Partly I know the plants can withstand a bit of frost, but for other plants I am pleasantly surprised and enjoy the flowers every day.

Of course the rosehips are no flowers, but they bring some nice colour in the often very colourless time of year.

I could not go by the kale without a picture. The kale tastes good, looks nice and will withstand the frost that is expected for next week.

Please share this post with other people to lighten up there day.

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Our Tiny House. Part 2. Isolation

How to keep the warmth inside?

On a previous Blogpost we finished with the outer hull of the Tiny House. Obviously we then put in the windows and the door, so that we can heat the Tiny House and work sheltered against the elements.

Next thing to do is putting in the isolation so we can keep the warmth inside. We like nature and want to build as natural as possible. Therefore we chose to isolate with sheep wool. We were a little disappointed when we received the sheep wool isolation, because the sheep wool isolation is very processed. The sheep wool isolation is treated against mold & mots. Also we need to ad on a protective layer to keep the wind out. This very much surprised us, because sheep do not care for wind. There wool protects them. Unfortunate they washed the sheep wool for the insolation, so the wool fat  is not there to keep the wind out. We did not anticipate this, so we had to ad the barrier from the inside in every little segment of the wall. This took a lot of time. Them we put in the sheep wool and we had to put another protective layer over the wool.

Luckily the protective layer only needed to keep out the wind, so we could do with a barrier that still could breath. This means moisture can travel trough the wall to the outside. This makes for a much healthier and pleasant climate inside of the Tiny House. The sealing and the floor is also isolated with the sheep wool. For the sealing we put rob as a sick sack underneath, so the isolation would not fall out before we could put the protective layer on.

After this we started with bringing on planks on the floor, walls and on the sealing. These planks are meant for under construction for some nice looking wood to go over them and also for stability.

This stability is needed because we want to be able to lift up the Tiny House with a crane. When we started to build our Tiny House we were not sure where on our property it should go. We just started building on a somewhat level surface on an accessible position.

We also put in some inner walls for a small bathroom.

Next thing we put in the electrical power. We choose to put it in plain sight to give the Tiny House a kind of industrial look. We only need some lights and a few outlets. Doing the electrical power this way makes it easier to ad on later if needed.

Now for the secret of the wall build up of our Tiny House.

The build up of the outer wall allows for a small controlled airflow. The space between the horizontal beams and the wider siding acts as a aircushion. This aircushion can only ventilate trough the gabs in between the wider siding planks. In the summer time this gives the Tiny House a somewhat cooling effect and also pulls the moisture out of the Tiny House. In winter due to the low temperatures this aircushion doesn’t ventilate as much so that it functions as extra isolation. But the moisture can still be transported out of the Tiny House. You should also know that sheep wool isolation has the same R-value no matter if its dry or moist. We are able to keep a balanced air moisture level in the Tiny House due to this effect. Which obviously is very good for the climate inside.

Next thing is to move the Tiny House to its new position before we build out the interior.

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Part 3 in starting for our food forest

The last big poplers to go

Before we start planting our new trees we need to take down these last 2 big poplers. These poplers are standing beside the road and outside of our fence. As we mentioned before we need to be careful how we chop them down. We need to look out for traffic and have to make sure that the main gas pipeline and our building will not be damaged. This mend that we had to take the trees down in parts. Luckily we have a telehandler with a 9 meter reach and a basket to go on the end.

We started off by cutting off the limbs. After reaching the 9 meter height we had to cut the top off and pulled it over with a rob.

Next thing we cleared all the branches out of the way, so that we can move freely with the telehandler. And now comes the exciting part. We secured the main trunk to the basket on the front of the telehandler and then we cut the tree near the ground. We lifted the trunk over our fence and laid it down on the ground.

For the second tree we did the same.

We were surprised about the small amount of branches coming of these 2 trees.

Cleaning up did not take much time.

Our suspicion that these trees were dangerous has been confirmed by the substantial damage done by the willow borer visible in the tree stumps.

Now we are ready to plant our new trees, but this will be for a different blogpost.

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Our Tiny House. The beginning

From tree to Tiny House

It all starts in the woods nearby. We have purchased a lot of trees. Spruce and Larches to build ourselves a Tiny House.

Larchwood in the woods

We picked the trees up from the woods with our tractor and logging trailer and brought the trees to our property.

Obviously the trees need to be sawn to beams and planks in order to be able to build our Tiny House. Good thing we have a saw mill, so we could do that our selves. We have sawn stacks and stacks of wood. You’d be surprised how much wood is needed to build a small house.

Of course we started of the build with the floor. Measuring out and leveling out the beams took a lot of time, but that is worth it. When the floor is perfect, it is much easier to build up the rest of the Tiny House.

Measuring out the floor beams

The Beams and construction boards are out of Larchwood. Larchwood has a lot of resin in it, so it is very durable. This makes Larchwood the perfect material for the outside of a building.

The construction floor where the Tiny House is build on

On this substructure we build with Spruce wood for the walls. We started with a smaller beam on the floor going all the way around. Then we started building up the walls. For stability we added a number of bracings. I just let the pictures speak for themselves.

For a strong roof (we can have lots of snow here) we put up high beams with short connection beams in between. On these beams we put planks and on the planks we put spacerplanks for mounting the metal sheeting, to finish up the roof.

Prepaired for the siding

Next thing we finish up the outside so we can work sheltered from the elements. We added small horizontal beams to create an airspace between the Larchwood siding and the wall construction.

Prepaired for the siding
Starting with the 20 cm wide siding

The siding is made out of 20 cm and 10 cm wide Larchwood planks. We start by putting on the wider planks with a spacing and then we cover this spacing with the smaller planks, so they overlapp on to the wider planks. We love the looks of this.

That’s it for the moment. Should you have any questions, just let us know.

Next time we are going to let you in on our insulation and secret of this Tiny House.

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Part 2 in starting for our food forest

The first of the 3 poplers to go.

In part 1 in starting our food forest we cleared a part of our property from some smaller poplers. Now it is time to take out a bigger tree standing within our fencing. Luckily this tree was in a position where we could just cut it down. No danger for the underground main gas pipeline and space for falling over and putting the tractor with our winch in position to secure the tree.

We expect the tree to be rotten in its core, so we attached the line of the winch high in the tree and put the line on tension. After that I cut the tree for ¾ and pulled over the tree to snap of the last bit with the winch. This made the falling very controllable.

All that is left to do, some cleaning up.

First we start by removing the branches, which will be chopped. The trunk is cut into manageable peace’s, of which the bigger one will be put on our sawmill. Popler wood is used for bee hives. The smaller trunk parts are going into our dead wood hedge.

The next thing to do is cutting down the last 2 bigger poples beside the road, but this is for a next time.

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Saving my to many seedlings

A last minute extra plant bed

After dividing our compost soil for hill beds and high beds there was a little left on the ground where we stored it. The ground was very uneven and had lots of debris in it. So what to do if we don’t want to leave the rest of the compost soil unused? Of course we just straitened out the compost soil and divided straw as mulch on top. And all of a sudden I had another nice sized plant bed to fill.

Covered with straw plant bed

Luckily this solved another problem I had. Since I had sown too much seed early spring I had a lot of small plants I did not know where to plant. The straw mulched bed is now dedicated for the red cabbage, kale, broccoli and celery root. To keep de dogs from ripping out the plants and protecting the plants against the cabbage white butterfly, we put a cover over them.

Red cabbage and kale under cover

The cover we had unfortunately was a bit small and not very sturdy. So over time there were some holes and also late summer the kale became too big for the size cover we had. We decided to remove the covers, check for caterpillars on a regular basis and just hope for the best, so the kale could grow on without being pressed down by the cover.

Red cabbage, kale and broccoli in the back
A row of celery roots

By this time the broccoli was ready to be harvested and provided us with some nice broccoli heads.

Broccoli

With some broccoli I missed out on the right harvest time, so these went to bloom. The broccoli flowers are nice yellow and attracted lots of butterflies. Of course mainly the cabbage white butterflies came. Not very good for the other crops standing beside the broccoli. But we love nature with all its aspects and are a strong believer in live and let live, so we collect all of the caterpillars from the crops we want to eat and put them on the blooming broccoli.

Blooming broccoli with caterpillars

A number of the red cabbages were getting to a nice size as well.

A nice size red cabbage head

After the first night frost we took out all of the red cabbage that had a decent size. All of the smaller ones we left for the caterpillars to eat.

Before harvesting the red cabbage

We had a wheelbarrow full of red cabbages.

Red cabbage harvest
After harvesting the red cabbage
A sacrificed red cabbage with caterpillars

Some went into a kimchi I have made. This is something new for me and I hope it will turn out to our taste. The rest of the red cabbage will be turned into sauerkraut, which we love.

Kimchi

The kale has grown well after we took of the cover and we harvest as needed. Since we have a nice autumn with some sunny, even warm, days the kale still grows.

Nice harvest ripe kale

The straw mulched bed wasn’t even full after planting the mentioned crops, so there was place for zucchini plants as well. But that is for another time.

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Part 1 in starting our food forest

Removing poplers to make place for fruit bearing trees

At the roadside of our property we have 3 big poplers which gave us concerns. After talking to our environmental agency we agreed upon taking these poplers down including the numerous smaller ones.

In our very windy, often stormy, location this type of tree is very dangerous, because poplers tend to fall over or snap of by storm. These poplers are only a few meters from the road and also our buildings. There is also the danger if these trees fall over there branches penetrate the ground deeply, which could cause damage to the main underground gas pipeline running through our property. The same danger occurs while cutting down the trees as well, so we have to do some things different. But more about that in a different blog post.

Putting the choker chain around the base of the tree

But first things first. We start by removing all the smaller trees by pulling them out of the ground with our winch. This way we hope to get as much as we can of the roots out of the ground. Due to the gas pipeline we are not allowed to dig the roots up.

Remotely operating the winch

Fortunate we have a 6,5 Ton winch which is remote controlled. The winch makes easy work removing those smaller trees.

Pulling out a tree

Sometimes the roots snap of and we had to pull them out separate.

Root on the chain
Root pulled out of the ground

Here are a few more impressions.

Tree on its way down
The root system is very shallow
Time to clean up

The final result. This small peace of our property has been cleared and mulched to prepare for the new fruit bearing trees.

The final result

The next step: cutting down the big poplers

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Trying something new: A Straw Bed

Since we have no usable soil on our property and I have seen and read about building up soil and mulching with straw or hay we have decided to try something new.

Place for straw bed. Rubble with blown in sediment

Our hay is reserved for feeding the animals, since we have a limited amount of it. Straw on the other hand we have plenty, so we have build up our bed with straw.

First layer of straw

We have spread a thick layer of straw on the ground which should keep the moisture from draining into the ground. We are building this straw bed on old rubble.

Straw layer, compost soil layer and the start of the top straw layer

On the straw comes a layer of compost soil and on top comes another thick layer of straw.

Half way building up the straw bed with the 3 layers

Unfortunately we did not get the compost soil until May. In the best case such a bed is build in the fall, so the bed has time to get thoroughly wet and the straw below has the chance to start decompose.

Tomatoes and squash plantings

I planted tomatoes, squash, cucumber and peppers. For weeks I was very disappointed that nothing happened. The plants did not die, but they did not grow either.

Tomatoes and squash plants. Cucumbers and chillies are in the back

After about 2 months all of a sudden the plants started to grow and they grew well. Of course it being already mid summer we had very little harvest from this bed. A few cucumbers and some chillies is all.

Cucumber and the beginning of a squash

The squash and tomatoes did not have the time to cure. Here are some pictures from the beginning of October just before the first night frost came.

Tomatoes
Beautiful flower of a squash
Beginning of a squash
Squash and tomato plants
Tomatoes

All in all it was a shame we did not build this bed in the fall, but I have high expectations for next year.

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Red beets harvest and soup making

A simple soup made out of our own red beets

After a light night frost we started harvesting all of our red beets before the frost makes them useless. We love our red beets as a soup. Even our children eat this soup well, so I thought to shear the simple way I make this soup with you.

All you need are some red beets, an onion, a few garlic cloves, beef broth, a cup of cream and some dill.

Cut the red beets, onion and garlic cloves into cubes and put the vegetables into a cooking pan.

Ad the beef broth so that the vegetables are just submerged.

Bring everything to a boil and simmer for about 15-20 min. until the red beets are softened.

Now blend everything with a hand blender to the consistency you like and ad the cream and the dill to your taste and liking.

Enjoy

I made a bigger batch so after blending I put half in jars to freeze for a later meal

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It is harvest time

And we have made ourselves a lot of work in the garden this year.

Drying onions

We have no useable soil on our property, so we have to work with raised beds and hillbeds in order to grow our vegetables.

Raised beds

This means a lot of work before we can even start with gardening.

raised bed and hillbed

As you can see on the picture we also mulch all our beds. Our location is ratter warm and dry, so this way of gardening is beneficial to keep the moisture in the soil.

Unfortunately this year was no good for the tomatoes. We only harvested a few handfuls of so many tomatoplants we had started from seed in the winter.

tomatoplants

On the other hand we had an abundance of zucchini, even a few broccoli en a bunch of onions.

Broccoli, Zucchini, Zucchinisoup and elderberry jelly

A few red cabbages have been turned into sauerkraut and kimchi. And I hope I find the time to harvest and process the rest of the cabbage before the caterpillars eat them all.

Kale and Red cabbage

The paprika was getting late to ripe due to the cold wetter now and then. So we had to harvest them green otherwise the paprika went bad before turning red completely.

Paprika plant

Paprika and Chilli harvest

Since we do not like the taste of green paprika I am fermenting and pickling them. Also the chilies are getting fermented.

Paprika and Chilli pickled and fermenting

We are so lucky to have a great potato yield. We had a number of different varieties. One did better as the other. Our favorite is the potato “Aromata” which tastes very good and gave us the best yield with a lot of very big potatoes.

Potatoes on hillbeds
Some potatoes and random harvest

While digging up the potatoes we sometimes find funny and beautiful creations of nature.

The harvest is not finished jet, but this year we have learned a lot and are very happy with al we have received from our garden.

If you have any questions about our way of gardening or otherwise, please let us know.